The growth of digital has greatly expanded brands’ access to their customers. With so many digital options and competitors, retailers must be especially thoughtful about their customers’ needs and how digital channels can be best used to serve them.
Thanks to increased competition and advances in personal tech, the number of approaches to omnichannel have been multiplying. This variety of options is both a blessing and a curse for many brands — how do you clear a path between customers and your products that’s simple enough to follow, but complex enough to account for all available channels?
Your response to this dilemma should involve careful examination of your customer base, their preferred channels and devices, and what their optimal experience of your brand would be. But while your approach should depend on your specific industry and business model, every omnichannel retailer should aim for one thing: consistency.
Multiple Channels, One Experience
There’s no such thing as a desktop consumer and a mobile consumer anymore. Today’s customers are multi-dimensional — they’re all constantly on the move and using a variety of social channels and digital devices. Regardless of where they are and how they shop, retailers should be prepared to reach them in a similar manner, with a similar voice, and deliver similar experiences.
This is more than basic brand marketing — people who can rely on having a consistent shopping experience, regardless of the channel they’re using, will feel like they can make purchases from anywhere. As long as you’re actually able to fulfill those orders from anywhere, you’ll be effectively maximizing your potential sales and revenue.
Same Customers, Different Places
Omnichannel can be understood as not just a way of engaging customers, but of understanding them as well. It encourages a holistic view of consumer behavior with the understanding that each purchase, while technically made on just one channel, can actually be the result of interaction with several.
With a more traditional, “multichannel” mindset, customers are understood only within the context of the particular channel they use. Omnichannel retailers understand how different mediums can fulfill different customer needs, but combine insights pulled from all channels to get a 360-degree view of the consumer. An omnichannel perspective focuses on when, where, and how to engage with all of a company’s customers, rather than trying to reach different audiences on different channels.
Starbucks, Sephora, and Virgin America do an excellent job at creating a seamless and tailored experience across all channels. Sephora’s Cashstar Commerce platform not only encourages customers to send and use gift cards from any device, but to personalize them with videos and pictures and then share them on social media. This kind of flexibility and freedom not only drives more purchases, but creates strong brand loyalty.
A central difference between omnichannel and multichannel experiences is the level of integration. While multichannel platforms are designed to exist separately from one another, omnichannel seamlessly connects and unifies each of them, resulting in an inherently more engaging customer experience. It’s this kind of engagement that makes omnichannel customers more vocal about their positive experiences both online and in the real world.
From desktop, to mobile, to tablet, a consumer’s experience spans across channels more often than many retailers think. Above all, an omnichannel experience simplifies your retail approach, treating consumers as a single audience rather than as scattered pockets of potential revenue. The more consistent the experience you provide, the easier retail gets — both for you and your customers.